If you are looking for the best active noise cancelling headphones on the market then you want Bose. However, I’m a cheapskate and want affordable noise cancelling headphones for traveling that are almost as good as Bose. That’s where the TaoTronics TT-EP01 active noise cancelling headphones come in. At only $46 US they are way cheaper than the Bose QC20 headphones which sell for $249 US. So that begs the question. Are they too cheap?
I have to be honest. I was very skeptical of these headphones. On the one hand they had lots of great reviews on Amazon.com. On the other, they seemed too good to be true. However, for the price, they were worth a try.
Once they arrived and I un-boxed them, I was actually impressed. The fit and finish are very nice and appear to be quality materials. The one exception is the battery box, which also houses the on/off switch and charging port; it seems cheap and scratches easily. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t have a quality feel to it.
One feature I really like are the “ear hooks.” These are the rubber fin-like protrusions that are attached to each earpiece and they help keep the earbuds planted firmly in your ear. (I have some noise cancelling headsets without these and they constantly fall out of my ears.) They are also replaceable and come with several different size options.
Now let’s talk about noise cancellation. When it comes to Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) these headphones do a really good job of eliminating low frequency, continuous noise such as jet engines, ceiling fans, washing machines, and anything along those lines. The last time I was on a plane, they did indeed get rid of the ambient noise from the engines, but I found them lacking on my last road trip. In a car, they do cancel out the low frequency road noise, but you can still hear the higher frequency wind noise. They are definitely more geared to the low end of the frequency spectrum. If you are hoping to cancel out talking, crying babies, or higher frequency noises, then these aren’t for you.
It’s also important that you get them situated in your ear canals properly. If the rubber tips aren’t providing a good seal then noise cancellation will be minimal. A lot of people prefer aftermarket tips like the Comply T-500s to get a better seal.
The last area of importance is sound quality, and I have to say they actually do a pretty good job here. Good lows, crisp highs without much sibilance, and acceptable mids that can be a little lacking at times. I’m perfectly happy with the way they sound but audio reviews are always subjective, so your results will vary. One nice feature of these headphones is that you can listen to music even if the active noise cancelling is off or if the battery is dead.
Overall, I’m very satisfied with most aspects of the TaoTronics. Here’s my list of all the pros and cons that I could find with these headphones.
- Very Affordable
- Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) works well
- Sound quality – decent lows and highs
- Narrow plug fits most phone cases
- Plenty of cord length – 55″ total
- Can be used to make phone calls
- 15 hour battery life (unverified)
- In-line controls on cord to switch tracks, control volume, and pause/play music
- Noise cancellation works without being attached to phone or other device
- Includes airplane headphone adapter
- Comes with three different sizes of rubber tips (small, medium, large)
- You can listen to music when noise cancellation is off or the battery is dead
- You can use the headphones while they are charging
- iPhone and Android compatible
- Rubber ear hooks to help keep them in your ears (3 different sizes)
- Finicky to get a good seal with provided earphone tips
- No case provided with the headphones (see my case suggestion below)
- Rubberized cord can be noisy and grippy
- Sound quality – mids can be lacking
- Instructions are worthless
- Battery box looks and feels cheap
- Built in rechargeable battery? (Not a con for me, but some prefer changeable batteries.)
- Charging is via a micro-USB jack
- A 7.5″ charging cord is provided
- Each earphone has a small green LED light that glows when headphones are on
- Suggested Case: GLCON Black Rectangle Shaped Portable Protection Hard EVA Case
- Aftermarket Tips: Comply Foam Premium Earphone Tips – Isolation T-500 (Black, 3 Pair, S/M/L)
The TaoTronics TT–EP01 headphones have a decent fit and finish, are compact, have good audio quality, and a price that can’t be beat, especially considering they provide a pretty good amount of noise cancellation. I do have some concerns about durability over the life of the product but only time and more use will answer that question. Overall, for the cost and quality you cannot go wrong with these active noise cancelling headphones, especially when traveling.